Tag Archives: politics

Communist banknotes: Part 4

China is a country that you really wouldn’t call communistic today. The current Chinese superpower is far from what the country was in the 1950s and 60s. The country is still highly authoritarian with only one accepted political party and with limitations in for example freedom of speech. Economically speaking the country is acting far from the ideals of Marx, but this is what has given the country its international success. But when it comes large parts of the country’s population the development have been devastating. Wealth in China is increasing hand in hand with pollution.

05 Kina - 100 Yuan - Mao

The country has certainly made an interesting journey during this past century, but whenever change is happening too quickly the man featured on this 100 yuan banknote has always been mentioned as an ideal to strive back to. This is Mao Zedong (1893-1976) who lead the communist party during the civil war that followed the Second World War. The communists were victorious and the country would change down to its foundations. Mao is a well-known figure, both from his portrait at Tiananmen Square in Beijing and pieces of art by Warhol. In China many see him as a symbol for the old and better way that existed before the economical reformations. As with many communist leaders they often get a nostalgic aura surrounding them. Let’s not forget that Mao was responsible for the murders of millions of dissident, the starvation of millions during the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) and the destruction of cultural treasures during the Culture Revolution (1966-1976).

Now we got three bankotes left…

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Communist banknotes: Part 1

Communism is both deeply hated and deeply loved by many. But whatever your thoughts are on the ideology it’s still easy to get fascinated by the phenomena. In its essence the ideology strives towards a utopic and equal society without classes and without private ownership.
It’s safe to say that communism is not strong today. It is an ideology of the 20th century during which many countries held it as the only possible way of life. However, no country succeeded in realizing the utopic society. Way to often these countries got stuck in the proletarian dictatorship with limitations in freedom of speech and terrible prosecutions ending in mass murder of opponents in countries like the USSR and China.
The enemy of communism is of course capitalism. This we saw during the long conflict that was the cold war which fueled wars all over the world.
Now, what would be a stronger symbol of capitalism if not money itself? There is something hypocritical with communist symbols and leaders on the very same thing that de ideology strives to counter. But the communism that was created in different countries during the 20th century is not unfamiliar to creating cults around certain figures. Some leaders got almost a religious status in these secular countries. The personality cult of the communistic countries works actually esthetically very well together with the classical design of banknotes. This fact makes them especially fun to collect.
In a couple of posts I’ll present some examples of these banknotes from my personal collection. You’ll get to read about them in an order of when the different persons were active. We’ll start it of where communism began.

DDR - 100 Mark - Marx

Above is a 100 mark banknote from East Germany (DDR) and it features Karl Marx, the philosopher and sociologist that could be considered the founder of modern socialist and communism. Below you have another banknote from DDR. This is a 50 mark banknote and it features Marx companion, Freidrich Engels. Together they laid the basis of the ideology with The Communist Manifesto which is their most famous manuscript and one of the world’s most influential ones. It’s no wonder that Marx and Engels were featured on DDR’s highest valued banknotes. DDR was a socialistic state and both of them were from Germany. The back of the 100 mark banknote features a couple of buildings in East Berlin. Among them you have the Palast der Republik (the parliament at that time), the Berlin TV tower and the red city hall. On the back of the 50 mark banknote you have an industrial complex portraying the importance of heavy industry for the state.

DDR - 50 Mark - Engels

These were my two first communist banknotes and there are six more to go!

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Switzerland: 2 franc 1981

Switzerland is probably one of the countries that have kept the same coin design the longest. The ½, 1 and 2 franc coins have had the same design since 1875. In 1968 they switched from being in silver to copper-nickel. I like it when coin series is changed once in a while (I’m for instance totally bored with the current Swedish coins), but I can understand why they have kept the current design for all these years. It’s a traditional design with enough of things going on to keep you interested. The text HELVETIA might be cryptic, but it’s just the Latin name of Switzerland. The woman, who looks like a goddess, is Helvetia herself, the personification of the county – similar to Britannica, Marianne or Mother Svea. You can also spot the Swizz cross on her shield. This cross is featured on the country’s flag and it’s also the base of the Red Cross which was founded in Switzerland.

Switzerland is generally considered to be a country of peace. “I’m neutral! I’m Switzerland!” is quite a common saying and rightly so. The Swizz managed to keep their neutrality even though they were completely surrounded by war during WWI and WWII. Switzerland hasn’t been in an armed conflict with another country since 1815 and that’s wonderful.

But there is actually one country that surpasses that. The last time Sweden was at war with another country was in 1814 when the country tried to force Norway into a union (with a successful outcome). Since then Sweden has kept its neutrality, but this can of course be discussed. Many people clam the neutrality during WWII to just be a charade. And in these days Sweden has peace preserving troops in overseas territories (such as in Afghanistan). Can one really claim that Sweden hasn’t been to war since 1814?

Whatever the case might be, Switzerland and Sweden is two countries that has a long history of peace and I think that this is something that has had a huge positive influence on the countries.

Now if only people stopped getting the two countries mixed up…

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On this day…

11 years ago the world changed drastically. On this day a large portion of the world turned to fear and prejudice instead of reason. On this day many people lost their lives and many people are continuing to do that. Violence feeds violence, and will continue to do so until we start using other means of solving our differences.

Here is a state quarter (25 cent) from the state New York. This coin was minted 11 years ago in 2001. 1788 is the year when Ney York became a member of the union. The coin features George Washington on the obverse side (like all quarters) and on the reverse side you can see the outlines of the state with the Hudson River and the Erie Canal marked on it. In the foreground stands the Statue of Liberty. Through history New York has been the first place that immigrants come to when looking for a better life in America, it is because of this that the caption “Gateway to freedom” is featured on the coin.

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